The college textbook racket is a cruel exploitation of a captive market, and book prices seem to rise faster than Google stock.
In my day we just bought the books we were told to buy and were grateful when the bookstore handed us back pennies on the dollar during end-of-semester buybacks. But now rental sites such as Chegg, BookRenter and CampusBookRentals are there to help today’s whippersnappers bypass the process and become only marginally screwed by the astronomical price of textbooks. The sites offer perks that include massive savings and free return shipping:
Talk radio host Clark Howard wrote a little diatribe declaring the textbook system broken and offering Chegg as analternative:
certain schools take kickbacks from book publishers for mandating that students use custom-edition textbooks. The production runs on these custom texts are small enough to be targeted for specific university courses.
These “boutique” books — which may excise certain material or add a professor’s published papers — come embossed with a warning that it’s illegal to sell back as a used book. The campus book stores are, of course, complicit because they refuse to buy these books from students.
If these online renters become more popular, you’d think publishers would be forced to drop their prices in order to compete.